Panda Problem

We have a Panda sighting! I guess all is well in Red Sox Nation-—or maybe not.

Oh, and I guess that paying someone $95 million to play third base isn’t enough motivation for some players to show up for camp in shape. Because we all know that $95 million doesn’t go as far as it used to.

Sandoval, not quite svelte. (Matt Stone photo/Boston Herald)

Sandoval, not quite svelte. (Matt Stone photo/Boston Herald)

Just like last spring, when everyone had high expectations with the signing of Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, and then, he showed up grossly overweight, Sandoval again rolled into the Red Sox complex at least 50 pounds over what he ought to be playing at. So, instead of talking about free agent pitcher David Price, Sox fans are being treated by local media to pictures of a fat, out-of-shape player who doesn’t give a damn.

Back in 1993, I decided to pitch for a local semi-pro team. I was 31-years-old, knowing I’d be trying to get players out that were mainly 10 years younger than me. I committed to biking to work in Brunswick two days a week, and on the other three mornings, I hit the gym to lift and workout. I wasn’t being paid a dime to do this.

Granted, we live in a country where packing on the pounds is now our national pastime. Interestingly, it’s been 20 years since I pitched for Coastal Athletics in the Twilight League, and I think I’m in even better shape than I was then. I swim two mornings a week, spin Tuesday nights, and try to run two more times during the week. The only reason I’m doing it is for health and so I don’t look like an old, fat guy. Oh, I’ll probably do a couple of triathlons this summer and I also don’t want to look like a fat load in my umpire’s uniform.

It’s a shame that a team paying someone more than most of us will make in 10 lifetimes can’t hold them accountable and expect them to show up for the season in shape. Maybe more telling about the days we’re living in—the player privileged to get paid to play a boy’s game doesn’t think he has some responsibility to maximize his potential and abilities for his employer paying him and the fans that will drop good money to watch him boot balls and look pathetic at the plate.

6 thoughts on “Panda Problem

  1. Only baseball players and football linemen can show up looking like that. Not in basketball, not in hockey, not even the front three in rugby, and certainly not the anorexsic acting troupes doing Irish dancing with a ball.

    I hear the point about a guy getting paid that much having so little respect for his team and its fans that he would do this. It wouldn’t happen in Foxboro (Blount’s contract is up for renewal, which do you think hurts him worse, that he’s coming off an injury or that he showed up last summer unable to pass the physical?).

    Still, in some ways it reminds me that baseball is a game, not a profession. That gut reminds me of Babe Ruth and of men who played for the fun of it, not the money, and then went home and harvested and worked at the hardware store and put their feet up on the woodstove until next spring.

    But for now, not a lot of quickness in the hot corner.

  2. Players like Panda and Bartolo Colon make me feel like I could still get out on the ballfield and not be too terrible.

  3. I didn’t follow the Red Sox last year; thanks for enlightening me about un-Kung Fu Fat Panda. The economy is rip-roaring in Boston and I’m sure the seats will be filled throughout the summer, fat panda or no fat panda.

  4. @JAB The Red Sox never have a shortage of fans happy to drop several hundred dollars to watch fat pandas frolic at Fenway. Another indication of our debased culture? Perhaps.

    @David I actually enjoyed watching Colon’s at bats last year. They were a thing on YouTube.

    @LP The lure of baseball is no longer as strong as it once was for me. Part of it is that the corporate aspects have taken it over the top and I never am able to forget the obscene amounts of money that are being forked out for mediocre performance.

  5. I’m thinking of Yogi Berra’s old saying, “it’s deja vu all over again” with the Red Sox. Things are not going to go well with Pablo or Hanley, mark my word!

  6. @John I’m with you on “things not going well” this year, if the first few days of spring training are any indication.

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